Session #5 Lyrics, Vocals, Guitar OH MY! The Final Mix Revealed.

On Day One, we’ve cut and resampled Kai Eckhardt’s bass part, cut live drums with Brain (Bryan Mantia), added miscellaneous resampled keyboard parts, thrown everything back on to analog 2” tape and slowed the tempo WAY DOWN!  Now, Day Two comes.  Melissa Reese and Greg James, have written a lyrical outline but before we lay down vocals, Melissa and I shape up the lyrics.   This took as much time as agonizing over the concept of the music.

Once we’re happy, Melissa cuts some kick ass vocal tracks in no time, Greg slams on some distorted guitar and I mix it, all recorded and mixed from 2” tape to keep that big fat analog sound.  We mix to DSD with several *stem tracks.

“I Am Shiva”  The Song is DONE!

You can hear the final mix here as an mp3 or download it as a CD Quality wav file.

Putting together a great team of people that achieves the set goal is what successful collaborations are about.  While you may not have the control of composing a song yourself, few things are more rewarding than sharing the experience of success with a great group of collaborators.

Here are some points below for successful collaborations to think about….

Get everyone on the same page.  Understand the goal of the session before you start writing.  Are there time/financial constraints? Pleasing a video client?  Writing a song that doesn’t sound like your last 10 songs? Exploring new instrumentation?

Make the best use of the talent of the collaborators.  Don’t ask rock guitar player to play through Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” if that person has never played through chord changes.  Reverse is also true. Asking people to do things they aren’t comfortable with can lead to failure, disappointment and can bring a session down.

When you come to a musical fork in the road, be willing to give up your ideas and agree on a path that is suitable for everyone.  Alter the decision making between collaborators and challenge yourself to change.

Stop creative gridlock by listening, putting your own ego aside and finding solutions.  Encourage ideas from more quiet contributors and curb the active egos gently.  Get everyone involved. Put a limit on an idea that isn’t getting anything done. 

Honor momentum.  Looking for the ‘right’ sound or part is fine, if 7 other people aren’t waiting around getting bored.  Perfection is not always necessary if you’re going to lose momentum of a performance or new ideas.

Anticipate Problems, Prepare Contingencies, Act Quickly, Know When to Pivot.  Chaos will happen.  Software will shutdown at the worst times, equipment will break, people get stuck in traffic.  Stay positive, find solutions and don’t dwell on the problems.

Above all, Praise is good.  Even the most talented collaborators need to hear “good job”.

We’re preparing a remix contest, so those of you who want to get a head start can work from the stem mixes we’ve provided.  Rules of the contest are that all the samples must come from the stems.  Finalists will be asked to identify which stem was used.  You can resample any part as much as you like, alter it with efx, repitch, etc, but you’ve got to show where your samples came from.

We’ll announce the prize soon.  Come back for more information!


Art of Collab Session #5 with Brain


Thanks and Enjoy!

Cookie Marenco

* stem mix — when a final mix is complete, we often create stem mixes.  A stem mix is some aspect of the song mixed as it was for the final, with complete efx but without other parts.   For instance, all drum parts in stereo with efx and volume changes, all bass parts, all background vocals, etc. 

You can get as detailed as you need.  The idea is when you combine all the stems, you’ll get the final mix.  Stem mixes allow you to make quick changes to a final mix by lining up all the tracks with the pop tone and making alterations as needed.  

It all relies on adding a pop tone to the front of the multitrack (tape or digital) across all tracks, recorded at the same time.  You’ll line up the pop tone on all the stems and it should come out to be your original mix.  If not, you’ve done something wrong and it will be a pain to align the stems.  

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2 Responses to Session #5 Lyrics, Vocals, Guitar OH MY! The Final Mix Revealed.

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  2. Ruby F. Cunningham says:

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